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Assistant Professor - Mechanisms of Madness: Computationally (De)constructing Delusions

University of Aarhus - Department of Culture, Computation, and Cognition

Location: Aarhus - Denmark
Salary: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 28th February 2024
Closes: 24th March 2024

The School of Culture and Society at Aarhus University invites applications for the position of Assistant Professor of Computational Cognitive Science based at the Department of Culture, Computation, and Cognition.

The appointment is a full time and fixed-term three-year position. The position begins on 1st May 2024 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Place of employment: Nobelparken, Jens Chr. Skous Vej, 8000 Aarhus C.

The university is keen for its staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified applicants, regardless of their personal background.

Members of the academic staff at the School of Culture and Society are expected to contribute to a vibrant, enjoyable and friendly work environment. We emphasise the importance of active participation in the daily life of the department.

The position

The successful applicant is expected to work on theory development and mathematical modelling, computer programming, and manuscript publication related to the project Mechanisms of Madness, which will be conducted at the Interacting Minds Centre during the period of employment. The successful applicant will contribute to the projects main theoretical research aim: developing artificially intelligent agents which navigate environments whose ambiguities can be resolved in realistic as well as in delusional ways. The successful applicant will also be required to teach courses on Aarhus University’s Cognitive Science degree programmes, and Aarhus University’s BA elective in Cultural Data Science. The applicant will also be required to complete Aarhus University’s Pedagogical Program, as part of the Assistant Professorship. 

About the project

Delusions are an unsolved problem in the mathematical modelling of mental processes. They are defined as false beliefs that are held with absolute conviction and cannot be changed by countervailing evidence. They are particularly difficult to describe formally (i.e., mathematically) because of the tension between the emergence and the maintenance of delusions. While the emergence of a false belief requires jumping to conclusions (being too quick to believe), the maintenance of the same belief requires stubbornly rejecting to form new conclusions (being too slow to believe).

The project Mechanisms of Madness (MoM) makes use of artificial intelligence (AI) to (de)construct architectures of delusional thinking by constructing artificially intelligent agents capable of the same kind of aberrant ‘thinking’ we see in delusional humans.

Mechanisms of Madness builds on a mathematical framework for the study of delusions recently developed in our group. Crucially, this allows artificially intelligent agents to be tuned to produce delusional patterns of aberrant inferences. While this is a step forward, the framework needs to be fleshed out with models that can be used to simulate AI agents negotiating challenging, realistic environments.

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